What are the qualities of a good project manager…a project leader? The right person to lead your project should be a rounded individual with a broad range of interpersonal skills…but saying that doesn’t help you narrow down your pool of candidates!
In this article we’ll review the most important skills a project manager should have and look at the traits of an effective project manager.
What are the attributes of an effective project manager?
An effective project manager needs a lot of skills and qualities in order to do a good job. They need to have:
- Effective communication skills
- Technical expertise in project management techniques
- The ability to inspire people to participate in the project
- Strong leadership skills
- Good business acumen
- Decision-making skills
- Empathy and emotional intelligence.
In fact, there are so many different things that go into being successful as a project manager, and that can make it challenging to hire the right person for the job.
We sometimes see companies focusing so much on the technical aspects, let’s say the ability to do earned value management or use a particular scheduling tool, and not enough on whether the person has the leadership and management competencies that will make them successful in the role.
A good project manager needs a blend of things that can be taught in a classroom, like risk analysis using simulations, for example, and interpersonal skills that can also be improved but that can be harder to do.
Above, we saw the seven top attributes for project managers – at least, in our view. Buzzwords aside, what do those skills actually look like in practice? Here’s more information on the criteria for selecting a project manager and why those characteristics are important.
Effective communication skills
Project managers spend so much time communicating – some experts say upwards of 80% of the job is communication. So it’s important that the person filling your project management role has excellent communication skills. They will be working with colleagues at all levels in the organization, and suppliers and customers. They’ll be giving presentations, leading virtual meetings, and preparing documentation. Great project managers have good written and spoken communication skills.
Technical expertise in project management techniques
Project management itself is a skill. When you’re looking for someone to join the team, you want to make sure they can actually do the job! Certifications can help you easily identify candidates who have met industry standards and taken exams in project management, but don’t discount experienced candidates without a credential.
As you talk to individuals, you will get a sense for how they manage projects and the technical project management skills they have. They should be able to tell you how they would adapt any project management technique, tool or discipline to best fit a particular project as tailoring an approach is an important marker for a successful delivery.
The ability to inspire people to participate in the project
Every project involves some kind of change, and change can make people feel uncomfortable – that’s just human nature. Strong project managers can inspire others to follow the project’s vision and encourage participation.
Strong leadership skills
Leadership is important for project managers because often they will be working in a matrix structure. The project manager joining your business may not have hierarchical management responsibilities for the people in the project team. That makes their leadership skills even more important because they’ll be leading a group of individuals from multiple teams.
Good business acumen
Business acumen is an essential project management skill, and one that you can test with detailed questioning at interview. Project managers with busines acumen skills appreciate how their project fits into the bigger picture. They know the strategic contribution that their work makes.
Business acumen helps project managers make smarter decisions about risk management and project delivery, shaping the way the project gets done to ensure it adds real business value at every step.
There are hundreds of decisions to make on projects, from the day-to-day ‘who is best placed to do this task’ type decision through to making financial recommendations that could substantially impact the organization’s bottom line.
A project manager should be able to use a variety of techniques to make decisions, and appreciate when to involve subject matter experts.
Empathy and emotional intelligence
We’re currently witnessing a shift in the role of project manager. The role is moving away from someone who can organize the team and get the work done on time, towards someone who is collaborative, facilitative and who can truly engage stakeholders in a meaningful way. Emotional intelligence is key to building trusted stakeholder relationships and getting the best out of the team.
What should I look for when hiring a project manager?
Look for someone who is a good fit for your organization’s culture and who is skilled at:
- Strategic thinking
- Stakeholder engagement.
The project manager you hire is going to be crucial to the success of your projects and therefore have a huge impact on whether your company itself gains a competitive advantage.
Find a project manager for your team
Finding someone who is the perfect fit for your team – whether you are looking for someone to lead the team or play an active part in the team’s success at a more junior level – can take time. Using a project management staffing solutions firm can cut down the time it takes to find suitable candidates and get someone in post.
We can help you find the most qualified staff for your role. Let us know what you need and we can connect you to experienced individuals who will augment your internal project management team and help take your project success rates to the next level.